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Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service - Protecting Our Community
Premises affected by the legislation
Main requirements under the legislation
5 steps to fire risk assessment
Public Register
Guidance documents
Contact details

1: What has changed?

The Fire and Rescue Services (NI) Order 2006 (The Order) came into effect on 15 November 2010. It replaced and simplified previous fire legislation in non-domestic premises by using a modern risk based approach to fire prevention.

It means that any person who has some level of control in premises must take reasonable steps to reduce risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.

2: What has happened to Fire Certificates?

The introduction of The Fire & Rescue Services (NI) Order 2006 and The Fire Safety Regulations (NI) 2010 saw the repeal of The Fire Services (NI) Order 1984 and consequently the requirement for certification.

The new Order came into force on 15 November 2010 and as such, existing Fire Certificates ceased to have effect from that date.

3: What if you have carried out a risk assessment under the previous regulations?

If a fire risk assessment for the premises has been carried out under the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 and this assessment has been regularly reviewed, then all that is required is a revision of that assessment taking into account the wider scope of the new legislation as described in the guidance documents.

4: What are relevant premises?

  • Offices and shops
  • Premises that provide care, including care homes and hospitals
  • Pubs, clubs and restaurants
  • Places of worship
  • Educational establishments including schools
  • Theatres and cinemas
  • Sports centres and other community premises
  • Hotels and hostels
  • Guests houses and bed & breakfast accommodation
  • Shared areas of properties common to several households
  • Houses of multiple occupation
  • Factories and warehouses
  • Tents and marquees
  • Transport premises and facilities
  • Animal premises and stables
  • Open air events and venues

5: What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A Fire Risk Assessment can be defined as an organised and methodical look at premises, the activities carried out there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premises.

Whilst there are no fixed rules about how a fire risk assessment should be carried out, it is nonetheless important to adopt a structured approach that ensures all significant risks are addressed.

6: Do I need to get a Fire Risk Assessment?

The answer is more than likely yes! Any premises used for business or by voluntary organisations come under The Order.

It will mean significant changes to the ways in which employers and people in control of premises are required to manage fire safety. Responsibility for fire safety in the workplace now clearly rests with the employer and those with any degree of control of premises.

Articles 25 and 26 explain who has a duty to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment:

  • If you are an employer you shall carry out an assessment of your workplace
  • If you own a premises in which you carry out a business, whether for profit or not, you shall carry out an assessment
  • If you occupy a premises by reason of a contract or tenancy you shall carry out an assessment

7: Who can carry out a Fire Risk Assessment?

In many cases, those with the responsibility for premises are likely to be best placed to maintain fire safety precautions and understand and address the risk to lives and property that a fire could present.

Under The Order, the duty to carry out and implement a fire risk assessment lies with the appropriate person. Achieving fire safety is often a matter of common sense, and in many cases there may be no need for specialist or formal knowledge or training, providing the appropriate person makes enough time available to go through all the necessary steps.

In carrying out a risk assessment, however, the appropriate person may decide that, given the nature of the premises or the people involved, they do not have the necessary competence to discharge their duties under The Order. In that case, they could choose to appoint one or more competent persons to assist him/her. The level of necessary competence is not prescribed in The Order, which recognises that the extent of competency will vary according to the nature and complexity of the premises involved.

8: How do I carry out a Fire Risk Assessment?

It is generally considered that for fire risk assessment to be suitable and sufficient the person responsible should follow the elements of the five step approach.

9: Who is the appropriate person?

Responsibility for complying with The Order rests with the 'appropriate person'. In a workplace, this is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, eg, the manager or owner. In all other premises the person or people in control of the premises will be responsible. If there is more than one appropriate person in any type of premises (eg, a multi-occupied complex), then they must all take reasonable steps to co-operate and co-ordinate with each other.

10: Who are the relevant persons?

A relevant person means any person (including the appropriate person) who is or may be on the premises, and, any person in the immediate vicinity of the premises who is at risk from a fire on the premises.

11: Who is a competent person?

A competent person is someone with sufficient training and experience or knowledge, and other qualities, to enable them to implement the appropriate fire safety measures.

The level of competence is not prescribed in The Order/Regulations, which recognise that the extent of competency required will vary according to the nature and complexity of the premises involved.

When complying with fire safety duties, under Regulation 17(7), an employer shall use a competent person in his employment to assist him, in preference to a competent person not in his employment.

12: How often should I do a risk assessment?

You should keep your fire risk assessment under regular review as risks may change over time.

If you make changes to your premises, you should ensure that the assessment and risk management plan remains current.

13: What happens if I share my premises with others?

If you share a building with others, you will need to co-ordinate your risk management plan with them.

If your plan changes as a result of a review or changes you made to your premises over time, you will need to share the revised risk management plan with others who share the premises.

14: What are relevant Notices?

A relevant Notice is any Notice issued by an enforcing authority which is required by the Environment and Safety Information (NI) Order 1993 to be entered into a public register of Notices.

Under The Fire and Rescue Services (NI) Order 2006 there are three relevant Notices. These are an Enforcement Notice, an Alterations Notice and a Prohibition Notice.

15: What is an Enforcement Notice?

An Enforcement Notice is a document which is sent to the appropriate person stating that the enforcing authority (Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service) is of the opinion that there has been a failure to comply with any provision of The Fire and Rescue Services (NI) Order 2006 or of any regulations made under it.

The Notice shall specify why the appropriate person has failed to comply with the duty in question.

16: What is an Alterations Notice?

An Alterations Notice is a document which is sent to the appropriate person stating that the enforcing authority (Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service) is of the opinion that the premises constitute, or may constitute, a risk to relevant persons if a change is made to them or the use to which they are put.

Where a Notice has been served the appropriate person must notify the enforcing authority if any changes are subsequently proposed for the premises.

17: What is a Prohibition Notice?

A Prohibition Notice is a document which is sent to the appropriate person stating that the enforcing authority (Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service) is of the opinion that use of the premises involves, or will involve, a risk to relevant persons so serious that use of the premises ought to be completely prohibited or partly restricted.

The Notice shall specify the matters which give rise, or will give rise, to the risk.

18. What happens to the Notice if you appeal?

If you appeal an Enforcement or Alterations Notice it will suspend the Notice until the appeal has been finally disposed of, or the appeal has been withdrawn. This will provide three possible outcomes:

  • The Notice may be cancelled - (the Notice is not in force)
  • The Notice may be affirmed - (the Notice must be complied with)
  • The Notice may be affirmed with modifications - (comply with the amended version)

A Prohibition Notice is different in that on an appeal the Notice will remain in force unless the court directs the suspending of the Notice. The court may cancel or affirm the Notice with the same outcomes as for the Enforcement and Alterations Notice above.

19: On what register will relevant Notices be entered?

NIFRS will enter current Notices on the Public Register section of NIFRS' website.

Entries shall be kept in the register for a period of 3 years.

20: What will NIFRS be required to do under The Order?

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is required under The Order to audit relevant premises within local areas to ensure compliance with the requirements of The Order and that adequate fire safety measures are in place.

In addition, NIFRS has a duty to provide fire safety advice when requested.

In delivering its audit and enforcement duties, NIFRS is expected to act openly and in proportion to the identified risk and, wherever possible, to allow the appropriate person a reasonable timeframe in which to implement any fire safety improvement.

21: Will NIFRS inspect my premises?

NIFRS will be the enforcing authority in respect of the majority of premises and will visit premises to ensure compliance with fire safety law. NIFRS will achieve this by an appropriate risk based inspection programme.

22: Where can I find further guidance?

Further guidance on managing fire safety for smaller premises is available in our booklet Make Sure You're Fire Safe - A Short Guide To Making Your Premises Safe From Fire.

Individual guides for larger or more complicated premises are available from the Communities and Local Government section of our website.

23: Who do I complain to?

If you are unhappy with the way the inspection has been conducted, or wish to make a complaint concerning any aspect of an inspection, you can contact:

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service
1 Seymour Street
BT27 4SX

or alternatively further guidance is available within the Complaints Section of the NIFRS website.